Parisian Living

Paris’s Top Three Winter Gardens

by Marissa Wu
On left: The cactus room at the Serres d'Auteuil, in Paris' 16th arrondissement, is crammed with the desert plants both large and small, some with arms waving in a friendly dance, and others squat, low to the ground. On right: A little green bud begins to bloom at the Serres d'Auteuil in Paris' 16th arrondissement.
Les Serres d’Auteuil by Marissa Wu

As a California girl, living in Paris has been a riveting experience. But coming from a place where there is abundant sunshine all year around, it’s also been a bit of a struggle. And, if you’ve been to Paris in the winter, you know what I mean. The city often puts on a gloomy gray coat and sunshine can be hard to come by. However, despite the chill and leaves being long gone, there are still places in Paris to enjoy beautiful plant life while staying warm.

On left: An empty table with three heart-backed mint green chairs sit on the terrace of the café garden in the Petit Palais, located in Paris' 8th arrondissement on the Champs Elysées. On right: The iconic dome of the Petit Palais, built to house the city's art collection, towers over two palms of its garden.
Le Jardin du Petit Palais by Marissa Wu

Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

Perhaps the most surprising find was the Serres d’Auteuil in the Bois de Boulogne. Pop out of the metro at Porte d’Auteuil, wind your way through the Poets’ Garden, and you’ll be met with an array of greenhouses. The entry is free, and you’ll find an international plant selection, with rooms dedicated to specimens from sub-Saharan Africa, South America, Australia, and Asia — just to get started.

On left: At the Serres d'Auteuil in Paris' 16th arrondissement, a palm tree bows over the small pond in the main greenhouse as sunlight streams through the glass. On right: The pond of the main greenhouse of the Serres d'Auteuil teems with koi fish, who swim languidly next to a cluster of deep red poinsettias.
Les Serres d’Auteuil by Marissa Wu

Two greenhouses of high interest may include one dedicated to cacti, and another to orchids. Some rooms may be closed to the public if a gardener is not present, due to the fragile nature of some plants, but tours can also be arranged ahead of time

On left: An artist sits among the leaves of the Serres d'Auteuil, in Paris' 16th arrondissement, sketching. On right: Empty chairs are propped up on their table on the patio in the main greenhouse of the Serres d'Auteuil, waiting for a visitor to come sit with their snack.
Les Serres d’Auteuil by Marissa Wu

Jardin du Petit Palais 

The Petit Palais serves as Paris’ fine art museum, housing the city’s art collection. The works date from the 19thcentury and are a mix of commissions by the city and purchased art. Wander the sculpture hall and slip out into the garden, with its tiled mosaics and fresco that adorn the portico ceiling. While some trees have lost their leaves, there are plenty of evergreen plants surrounding the three ponds, including a line-up of palm and banana trees. After taking a tour through the gravelled pathways, stop into the café. Amandine Chaignot, notably of Plaza Athénée, Le Meurice, and Le Crillon, designed the menu.

On left: The spindly branches of a tree reach skyward, with the dome of the Petit Palais, Paris' city art museum, rising in the background. On right: Bouncy little flowers begin to sprout in the garden of the Petit Palais, located on the Champs Elysées.
Le Jardin du Petit Palais by Marissa Wu

Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes 

A botanical garden and greenhouse akin to the Serres d’Auteuil located in the Latin Quarter. For 7€, pass through the Art Deco colonnade and discover jungle vegetation. Another section shows off plants that thrive in the planet’s arid regions, but perhaps what is most impressive is the greenhouse dedicated to the Oceania archipelago. You’ll also want time to explore the evolution of plants, tracing over 430 million years of history. 

On left: Stepping stones zig-zag their way out of a cavern at the Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden in Paris' Latin Quarter. On right: leafy palms catch the light in the greenhouse of the Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes.
Les Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes by FG Grandin

While the city’s trees may be bare, that’s what makes these sweet little pockets of greenery all the more delightful. They may be lacking in the majesty of Paris’ larger gardens, but, on the other hand, offer an opportunity to learn more about some of the plants we appreciate, discover new ones, and just hang out and enjoy the vibe in the midst of winter . 

On left: A view from above of the lush landscaping of the Grandes Serres du  Jardin des Plantes in Paris' 5th arrondissement. On right: A dramatic rock formation, with a trickling waterfall, rises towards the glass of the greenhouse in Paris' botanical garden, the Jardin des Plantes.
Les Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes by FG Grandin

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Written by Marissa Wu for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a  fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.

Written By

Marissa Wu

Film photographer, Francophile, flâneuse. Always a writer, occasional poet, trained as a journalist. A lover of bookshops, ice cream, and skirts with pockets, and searching for the best croissant in Paris. Marissa's artistic focus is portraits of women, because she believes love is to reveal the beauty of a woman to herself. She's excited to be at HiP helping to share all thing Paris and France! View Marissa Wu's Website

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